Iran has installed 18,000 uranium-enrichment centrifuges, the country's outgoing nuclear chief was quoted as saying by Iranian media on Saturday.
The U.S. and its Western allies are pressing Iran to curb its
uranium enrichment program, which they suspect is aimed at developing a nuclear
weapons capability, but Iran refuses and insists its nuclear activity is for
purely peaceful purposes.
New Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, a former
nuclear negotiator who oversaw a previous deal to suspend Iran's uranium
enrichment, has welcomed new talks with world powers over the program but has
insisted on Iran's right to enrich uranium.
Iran has 17,000 older
"first-generation" IR-1 centrifuges, of which 10,000 are operating and 7,000 are
ready to start operations, the ISNA news agency quoted Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani,
outgoing head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), as
A May report from the U.N. nuclear watchdog indicated that Iran
had by then installed roughly 16,600 IR-1 machines in two separate
Abbasi-Davani also said there were 1,000 new, more advanced
centrifuges ready to start operations, in a reference to IR-2m centrifuges,
which once operational would allow Iran to enrich uranium several times faster
than the IR-1 machine.
The IAEA in its last report in May said Iran had
installed a total of 689 such centrifuges and empty centrifuge
Rouhani on Friday appointed Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran's previous
foreign minister, to take over the AEOI. Salehi, who once headed the agency, is
seen as a pragmatist, as opposed to the more hardline Abbasi-Davani.